The processing cost of interpreting superlative modifiers and modals

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2014
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Proceedings of Formal & Experimental Pragmatics Workshop held during ESSLLI 2014, August 11-15 / Degen, Judith et al. (ed.). - pp. 29-35
Abstract
Superlative modifiers like 'at least' and 'at most' pose several challenges to formal semantic and pragmatic analyses. A particular challenge is accounting for the ignorance inferences they give rise to, and whether to attribute these inferences to the lexical semantics, the semantic combinatorics, pragmatic implicature, or the interaction thereof. We conducted a self paced reading study in order to adjudicate between the various analyses proposed for superlative modifiers, taking their interaction with deontic modals as a test case. In the experiment, we aimed to determine which superlative modifier-deontic modal combinations are correlated with which readings as well as the time-course of the interpretation of these expressions in order to better adjudicate between competing analyses. We found that some superlative-modifier combinations have a clear response pattern coupled with faster processing-time and argue that this is an indication that they give rise to an authoritative reading that comprehenders favoured. When such reading wasn’t available, participants resorted to a repair mechanism to generate an authoritative reading that is not compositionally available, which came at a processing cost.
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400 Philology, Linguistics
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superlative modifiers; modified numerals; ignorance inferences; experimental pragmatics
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ESSLLI 2014 : 16th European Summer School for Logic, Language and Information ; Formal & Experimental Pragmatics Workshop, Aug 11, 2014 - Aug 15, 2014, Tübingen
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Cite This
ISO 690MCNABB, Yaron, Doris PENKA, 2014. The processing cost of interpreting superlative modifiers and modals. ESSLLI 2014 : 16th European Summer School for Logic, Language and Information ; Formal & Experimental Pragmatics Workshop. Tübingen, Aug 11, 2014 - Aug 15, 2014. In: DEGEN, Judith, ed. and others. Proceedings of Formal & Experimental Pragmatics Workshop held during ESSLLI 2014, August 11-15, pp. 29-35
BibTex
@inproceedings{McNabb2014proce-32076,
  year={2014},
  title={The processing cost of interpreting superlative modifiers and modals},
  url={https://sites.google.com/site/fepesslli2014/proceedings/proceedings.pdf},
  booktitle={Proceedings of Formal & Experimental Pragmatics Workshop held during ESSLLI 2014, August 11-15},
  pages={29--35},
  editor={Degen, Judith},
  author={McNabb, Yaron and Penka, Doris}
}
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